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In New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia, DoorDash (DASH) has launched a new initiative and a $2 million fund to help women, refugees, and BIPOC-owned companies.


The program’s purpose is to support restaurant owners disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to help them adjust and stabilize their companies, called the Main Street Strong Accelerator.

Tasia Hawkins, executive of DoorDash, tells Yahoo Finance that the decision to create the fund stems from the childhood experience of co-founder Tony Xu.

“He immigrated from China when he was five, and started DoorDash because of his time with his mother washing dishes. He saw how hard it was to run a restaurant and how the margins are for restaurants. How difficult it is for merchants to grow. That story has sorted into what is today a logistics platform and services that help small businesses grow,” Hawkins said.

The program consists of an 8-week curriculum that covers subjects such as marketing, incorporation of technology, cash flow management, and development of menus. DoorDash is handing out $2 million in grants to 100 owners of restaurants. The grants will be made in two installments of $10,000, one at the beginning and one at the end of the program in May.

Hawkins informs Yahoo Finance that on its forum, DoorDash listened to the restaurant owners, and one issue that repeatedly emerged was that many smaller restaurants considered PPP loans inaccessible because they did not have established banking relationships.

The Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF) is working on the project with DoorDash. The charity is no stranger to the challenges facing many small business owners; women, refugees, and people of color are 90 percent of its small business customers.

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“Restaurants have been among the industries most severely impacted during this pandemic. And, like all sectors, those owned by women, immigrants, and people of color suffered the most, because they had less resources to fall back on and fewer connections to access initial relief from the federal government,” said Luz Urrutia, Accion Opportunity Fund CEO.

“It’s clear and unfortunate that the future of the industry has changed forever. If we want to make space for food visionaries from diverse backgrounds to contribute to the future of food, dining, job creation, and community-building, we must intentionally focus on these business owners to support their adaptation, creativity, and liquidity,” Urrutia said.

Applications open on February 23 for the application. Restaurant owners and operators operating three or fewer restaurant locations have been operating for two or more years, and all of their locations have 50 or fewer staff. At doordashimpact.com/accelerator, full eligibility criteria can be found.

 

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